Shocker – Sepp Blatter backtracks on sanctions for racism

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FIFA President Sepp Blatter has softened his stance on eradicating racism from world football by punishing teams with relegation and points deductions. At an event in Zurich on Friday, the 77-year-old Swiss explained his worries that such measures could encourage fans to deliberately try and get matches stopped.

“Where does it end?” Blatter asked. “How far can we go? To what extent can we expect that a game is stopped, by players walking off the field?

“Can we stop it by deducting points or by relegating a team? Or will this lead to persons coming to the stadium wanting to stop the game intentionally?” Later, Blatter elaborated on his comments to reporters: “We have to do something but the danger is if we say the match will be replayed, or there will be a deduction of points or whatever, this can open the door for groups of hooligans to create these problems.”

Blatter’s reduced stance, while infuriating, is hardly surprising and only underscores how out of touch he is with the modern game and the culture that surrounds it. Yes, his ignorance is outlandish. Heck, it was only two years ago when Blatter stated that there was no problem with racism in football and those targeted should just “shake hands”. So maybe we should be giving the dinosaur more credit for how far he’s come.

Yeah, right.

When it comes to the issue of racism in football, Blatter needs to quit moving at a snail’s pace. We’ve seen him slow play a number of important issues – from World Cup construction concerns to the implementation of goal-line technology. But sanctions like points deductions and relegation for fans guilty of racism should have been in place months, nay, years ago. Fining clubs and banning fans from stadiums were good initial measures but they clearly haven’t cured the problem. In fact it only seems to have gotten worse.

Blatter’s backtracking on points deductions and relegation is as worrisome as it is ridiculous. The thought that such sanctions could spark fans into intentionally disrupting matches makes little sense. Sure, it could happen. And now that Blatter has floated the idea out there it’s probably more likely to occur (well done, Pres). But the potential positives to come from such sanctions – mainly, putting an end to supporters racial abusing players – far outweigh the potential negatives.

Alex Morgan named CONCACAF Female POY, Navas wins Male POY

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CONCACAF awarded some of its finest players and coaches on Sunday night, and two familiar faces took home the evening’s most notable awards.

[ MORE: Making sense of table in Man City’s world ]

U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica and Real Madrid each earned Female and Male Player of the Year honors, after boasting tremendous 2017 seasons.

Morgan who primarily plays for Orlando in the NWSL, was also a member of Lyon, who went on to win the Women’s Champions League this past season.

Navas, on the other hand, played a key role in Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League run, as well as Los Blancos’ La Liga title.

For Morgan, the award is her third since CONCACAF began handing out its annual awards in 2013. Meanwhile, Navas has now won Male Player of the Year on two occasions.

Leon Bailey stars but Bayer Leverkusen held 4-4 by Hannover

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BERLIN (AP) Jamaica striker Leon Bailey scored twice after coming on as a substitute but Bayer Leverkusen failed to hang on as Hannover grabbed a 4-4 draw in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

[ MORE: Liverpool smashes Bournemouth to move fourth ]

Bailey, who came on at the break, needed only two minutes to equalize after Hannover had gone 3-2 ahead, and he scored again 20 minutes later to put Leverkusen 4-3 in front.

But the 20-year-old missed another chance to complete a hat trick and Julian Korb scored late for Hannover to draw.

“I had a third chance, and I just know if I had taken that chance it would have been over for them. It’s just unlucky. But that’s football,” said Bailey. “A wise man learns from his mistakes. But a wiser man learns from others’ mistakes.”

Both teams traded goals on an afternoon to forget for the goalkeepers.

“It was worth the entrance price for the spectators,” Korb said.

Julian Brandt fired Leverkusen into an early lead with a brilliant volley but Ihlas Bebou replied straight away with a header for Hannover.

Niclas Fuellkrug put the home side ahead with a penalty, only for Admir Mehmedi to equalize four minutes later for Leverkusen.

Hannover went ahead again after Fuellkrug set up Felix Klaus with his heel before the break, when Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich reacted with two substitutions.

One of them was Bailey, who raced forward to reach Kai Havertz’s through ball and kept his cool to beat Hannover `keeper Philipp Tschauner.

Bailey claimed his sixth goal of the season after the game’s longest stretch without a goal when Mehmedi played him through on a counterattack after a Hannover corner.

But there was further drama to come as Bebou eluded three Leverkusen defenders to set up Korb for Hannover’s equalizer with seven minutes remaining.

Leipzig, level on points with Leverkusen, had the chance to go second again with a win at home against Hertha Berlin later Sunday.

The 2 Robbies podcast: Liverpool dominates, selling Coutinho discussed

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe start off today’s show by discussing Man United’s win at The Hawthorns as Lukaku scores for the second straight match with Juan Mata impressing with his link up play. The guys also look at Alan Pardew’s influence on the Baggies. Liverpool net four in a dominating victory over Bournemouth and with Mo Salah continuing to dominate, the Robbies ask: can Liverpool now afford to sell Coutinho? And finally, the guys discuss Bournemouth’s recent struggles.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Report: PSV likely to land Man City, USMNT’s Palmer-Brown on loan

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A number of well-known American players have completed moves to Europe over the years, and a former Sporting KC defender is about to embark on his own journey abroad.

[ MORE: Liverpool smashes Bournemouth to go fourth ]

U.S. youth national team centerback Erik Palmer-Brown is headed to Premier League side Manchester City, who currently leads the English top flight, after signing a pre-contract with the club back in September.

It is now believed though that the young player will go on loan once he arrives with the English side.

Metro is reporting is that Palmer-Brown is likely to complete a move to Dutch Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven on loan.

Palmer-Brown helped the U.S. Under-20 national team reach the quarterfinals at this year’s U-20 World Cup in South Korea, after previously representing several other U.S. youth national teams.